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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top Seed Kubler Out; Stephens and Kudla Advance to Wimbledon Junior Quarterfinals; Todd Martin Blogs About US Tennis, Junior Development

If you don't count Tomas Berdych, unseeded Oliver Golding is the toast of Wimbledon today, after coming from behind to upset No. 1 seed Jason Kubler of Australia 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the third round of the boys championships. Golding, who will be 17 in September, broke Kubler at 5-5 and faced the difficult task of serving it out in front of what was undoubtedly a SRO crowd of supporters on Court 14. Listening to Radio Wimbledon's Robbie Koenig, I could tell that Golding wasn't rushing the moment, and his serve really came through for him when he needed it. For Kubler, it was his third straight early exit at a junior slam; he has yet to reach a quarterfinal.

As if that wasn't enough excitement on Court 14, doubles partners Sloane Stephens and Timea Babos, who won the French girls title earlier this month, followed with a scintillating match that Stephens won 6-2, 3-6, 8-6. Down two breaks at 2-5 in the third set, the unseeded Stephens saved two match points on Babos's serve, held at love, and with Babos serving for the match the second time at 5-4, broke at 30-40 to even it. Babos managed to stop the slide by holding for 6-6, but serving at 6-7, the third-seeded Hungarian was broken for the third time in four service games, again at 30-40, to give Stephens the victory. It is her second trip to the Wimbledon junior quarterfinals, and she will play No. 9 seed and Roehampton champion Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who dismissed wild card Eleanor Dean of Great Britain 6-0, 6-2. For more on the Babos - Stephens match from someone who was there, see the wimbledon.org article.

Grace Min lost to No. 15 seed Yulia Putintseva of Russia 7-5, 6-0, and No. 5 seed Monica Puig lost to No. 12 seed and doubles partner Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-3, 6-3, despite leading 3-1 in the second set. Jabeur was a finalist at Roland Garros earlier this month.

Not only do the British have Golding to follow in the quarters, but they are assured of a girls semifinalist, as No. 8 seed Laura Robson and unseeded wild card Tara Moore will meet to decide who will advance. Moore ended the run of qualifier Nigina Abduraimova of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-3, while Robson needed close to two hours to beat back the challenge of No. 11 seed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium 6-4, 7-6(2). For more on the British junior success and Wimbledon, see this article from the BBC.

Denis Kudla, the No. 7 seed, avoided the upset bug that struck both Kubler and Australian Open boys champion and No. 3 seed Tiago Fernandes of Brazil, who lost to qualifier Ben Mitchell of Australia 7-5, 6-4. Kudla overcame Ben Wagland of Australia 6-3, 7-6(2), not letting the five break points that Wagland saved serving at 5-5 in the second set disrupt his concentration. In the quarterfinals, Kudla will play Roehampton finalist Facundo Arguello of Argentina, who beat Filip Horansky of Slovakia 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in a contest between two unseeded boys.

For complete draws, including doubles, which are only now finishing the first round, can be found at wimbledon.org.

Todd Martin, who is competing in the Invitational Doubles at Wimbledon this week, has written this blog entry for usta.com. In it, Martin reveals that he is doing junior evaluations, and it's interesting to note, ala John McEnroe, that Martin thinks some juniors are too focused. Martin writes:

I'm telling a lot of kids to back off, that they are on the court too much and not doing other stuff to keep their mind clearer. It's also important at early ages to allow your general athleticism to develop.